Tag Archives: Carrie Harris

Why Try a Job Fair? For More Reasons than One

You’ve seen the posters around campus, the emails, the notices on Parkland’s website.  But you still think: “Job fair? me?  Uh-uh. I’m already working” or “I’m going on for my bachelor’s” or “I still have a year until graduation” or “I get too nervous” or “I’m just not ready yet.”

But the answer should be “YES!” because there’s more than one way to utilize a job fair.  Think about it, wouldn’t it be great to make connections with employers you think you might want to work for?  They don’t know you’re out there unless you let them know. Are you working in the field you want to end up in?  There could be opportunity to find a “real” job (even part-time) or internship opportunity before you complete your bachelor’s degree in your field of study.

You know you want to go into business, but that’s so broad.  A job fair allows you to get out and talk with a variety of companies  in the industry to find out in what direction you want to focus when you’re done with school.  Not sure how to start conversations with employers? Go through the fair, observe, and make sure to approach just one or two employers, just to practice presenting yourself.

Need help with your resume? elevator pitch? LinkedIn account?  As a Parkland student, you can plan ahead and schedule a FREE  appointment with the Career Center so that you are ready to go on the day of the job fair.

***We will hold our final job fair of the 2016 spring semester Monday, April 11, from 10 am to 1:30 pm in the Student Union Atrium.  This fair will focus on careers in Computer Science, Information Technology, and Business.

Stop by the Career Center in U238, follow us on Twitter and Pinterest, and check out our website. Call us at 217/351-2536. Our hours are Monday–Friday, 8 am–5 pm. ***

[Carrie Harris is a career counselor in Parkland’s Career Center.]

Gen Ed Classes: Busy Work or Career Boosters?

Spring has arrived—and with it, thoughts about next semester, summer employment, if you are ever going to graduate, and whether you can squeeze in time for your  group project, write a 5-page paper on the cultural diversity of Indonesia, and hold down your part-time job all before the end of the semester.

If you want to be hired in today’s job market, you will NEED to use all of the above to your advantage.  That’s right: Those projects, papers, and seemingly useless knowledge of world governments, religions, and societies may be some of the  most important skills you’ll gain from your college career.

In today’s job market, employers want more than technical skills from their employees.  We live in a global society, and more and more jobs are requiring us to interact with other humans in some form for at least part of the day.  To help your resume stand out, start documenting what you are doing in these general education courses now.  For example, have you:

  • Completed group projects?
  • Improved your writing skills?
  • Gained knowledge and perspective on global issues/other cultures?
  • Worked with a diverse group of people?
  • Identified a problem and developed a solution?

You don’t need a ton of work experience to gain all these attractive skills; you’ve been doing them all along in your college coursework! The situations above translate into examples of communication, problem solving, teamwork, understanding and relating to others, diversity sensitivity, and managing multiple priorities.

So the next time your advisor tells you that you need one more humanities gen ed to fulfill your degree requirements, don’t roll your eyes but instead, challenge yourself to broaden your horizons and select a course you know nothing about.  You’ll have one more experience to add to your list and keep track of, so that when job search time comes, you can verbalize these experiences and move more powerfully toward career success.

[Carrie Harris is a career counselor in Parkland’s Career Center.]

GO AHEAD, Work: Top 10 Tips for Your Resume

The Parkland College Career Center is hosting career-specific job fairs this spring.  To best prepare for these upcoming fairs, make sure your resume is up-to-date with these 10 tips:

  1. Target your objective and resume to the position you’re applying for, matching your qualifications to the job description.
  2. List the most relevant information first. Employers may spend less than 30 seconds skimming a resume!
  3. Appearance and format are initially more important than content. If your resume is too long or not visually appealing, the employer may not read it. Stick to one page if you are an undergrad or recent graduate.
  4. Use action phrases, not complete sentences, to list your job duties. Do not use personal pronouns (“I”, “me”, and “my” are never included in a resume). List “Relevant Course Work” if you do not have relevant professional work experience.
  5. Use a Microsoft Word docment (but NOT the MS Word template). When sending electronically, type the cover letter in the text and attach your resume.
  6. Use specific examples or statistics whenever possible to demonstrate your strengths (e.g., trained 18 employees, increased sales by 10%). Think accomplishments!
  7. Pay careful attention to spelling, grammar, and punctuation.  Have others proofread; don’t rely on spellcheck.
  8. Include participation in clubs, associations, or community and volunteer organizations. “Additional Activities” show how you developed interest and leadership abilities. Include awards and honors.
  9. Use key words which will be identified by applicant-tracking systems (e.g., Microsoft Word, UNIX, supervised, BA degree, MOUS, Windows NT, etc.).
  10. Be sure to ask your references before listing them on your resume. They’ll be better prepared when an employer calls!

****Our targeted Career Fairs will be held on the following dates from 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. in the Student Union atrium::

  • February 10 – Agriculture/Engineering Science and Technologies
  • March 2 – Health Professions
  • April 11 – Computer Science  and Information Technology/
    Business

Stop by the Career Center in U238, follow us on Twitter and Pinterest, and check out our website. Call us at 217/351-2536. Hours: Monday–Friday, 8 a.m.–5 p.m.****

[Carrie Harris is a career counselor in Parkland’s Career Center.]

 

 

GO AHEAD, Work: Top 10 Cover-Letter Tips

The Parkland College Career Center is hosting career-specific job fairs this spring.  Make sure your cover letter is up-to-date with these 10 tips.

  1.  A cover letter should always accompany the resume.
  2. Cover letters should be one page, using standard business-letter format.
  3. Many employers look to the cover letter as an example of your written communication skills. Make certain that your cover letter is spell-checked, grammar-checked, and proofed by someone other than yourself.
  4. Address the letter to a specific person, using his or her correct title. If you are unsure as to whom the letter should be addressed, call the company and ask. Request spelling and title verification if necessary.
  5. Tailor the letter to the needs of the organization or the description of the position. Explaining what you want throughout the letter doesn’t tell the reader the BENEFIT of what you can offer.
  6. Capture the reader’s attention by highlighting your skills and abilities (think accomplishments and give examples); emphasize their usefulness to the employer.
  7. Be precise and concise; don’t waste the employer’s time with fluff or wordiness.
  8. Be professional, but don’t be afraid to show enthusiasm and interest in the position. Keep the tone positive.
  9. Keywords are key. Becauase many companies use applicant tracking systems (ATS) to find and screen candidates, skill-oriented keywords will boost your chances for being discovered.  Match your qualifications to the job description using key words.
  10. If submitting by email, type the letter in the body of the email and attach your resume. Use short paragraphs to give a brief bio on who you are and what you can do for them.  Wrap it up in the second paragraph.  An example for the subject line:  “CPA seeks accounting position. “

****Our targeted Career Fairs will be held on the following Wednesdays from 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. in the Student Union atrium:

  • February 10 – Agriculture/Engineering Science and Technologies
  • March 2 – Health Professions
  • April 11 – Computer Science and Information Technology/
    Business

Stop by the Career Center in U238, follow us on Twitter and Pinterest, and check out our website. Call us at 217/351-2536.****

[Carrie Harris is a career counselor in Parkland’s Career Center.]

GO AHEAD, Work: Top 10 Job Search Tips

The Parkland College Career Center is hosting career-specific job fairs this spring.  Make sure you’re ready for a job search by reviewing these 10 tips.

  1.  Get organized.   Prepare or update your resume and cover letter. Know what type of job you are looking for and what you have to offer. Make a plan and keep records of your activities.
  2. Polish your interview skills. You’re not ready to start your job search until you can answer questions about why you want the job and why you are qualified.
  3. Identify employers in your geographic location who employ people with your skills and/or education.  Search online, contact your chamber of commerce, and read Help Wanted ads and job posting sites.
  4. Research. Use the Internet to visit the websites of employers in your industry.  View the employment pages for job openings.
  5. Identify 3–4 of your professional strengths and develop a “30-second commercial” about yourself. Focus on your skills, experience, and education that qualify you for the job.
  6. Find three people who can give you a positive recommendation. “Professional” references should be work- or education-related.
  7. Network. Tell everyone you know that you are looking for a job.  Over 75 percent of job openings are not advertised!
  8. Schedule informational interviews to gather information about a company, current or future job openings, and the education or skills required. Remember, you are not asking for a job; you are seeking advice.
  9. Consider enhancing your work experience through an internship or part-time job.
  10. Show your gratitude. Send an email message or thank-you note to those who provided valuable advice and support.

****Our targeted Career Fairs will be held on the following Wednesdays from 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. in the Student Union atrium:

  • February 10 – Agriculture/Engineering Science and Technologies
  • March 2 – Health Professions
  • April 11 – Computer Science and Information Technology/
    Business

Stop by the Career Center in U238, follow us on Twitter and Pinterest, and check out our website. Call us at 217/351-2536.****

[Carrie Harris is a career counselor in Parkland’s Career Center.]